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Wednesday - April 26, 2017

GOG - Cooperation with Ars Technica

by Myrthos, 10:00

GOG and Ars Technica have started a cooperation. What the cooperation exactly entails is not completely clear, but for starters they are giving away free copies of The Witcher.

Giving away a game is just the first thing we're doing. Over the next few months, we're going to be testing out some cool integrations between Ars and GOG—most of it's under-the-hood stuff, but based on the talks we've been having with the GOG folks, it should be pretty neat.

Additionally, GOG has agreed to open up its archives to Ars and give us access to the developers who worked on many of the big games of the last 30-plus years, which ought to make for some excellent write-ups and stories. We're also looking forward to running a story or two on the complex methods GOG has had to employ over the years to excise copy protection and DRM from old titles, often without access to the original source code.

There's more, too—lots more. We'll announce additional initiatives over the next few months, so stay tuned folks!

GOG

Details

Pillars of Eternity II - Development Update

by Myrthos, 09:28

The latest update for Pillars of Eternity II shows that the slacker backer option has been extended to this friday in order to try an achived the 4.75M$ stretch goal, for which still $6K is missing. Furthermore the soundtracks belonging to the Deluxe editions of POE and The White March are available for download now and there is more information about character and environment art, VFX, programming and new cloth physics.

In Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire we've upgraded to a new cloth solution for capes, robes and other garments using the cloth physics in Unity 5. The improved pipeline lets us add more cloth items to the game, as well as have good cloth simulation across all platforms - including Mac and Linux. Great! Well... it wasn't all great... Game development is never easy, and there's always a problem or an unforeseen issue. And with our new cloth, we soon ran into a problem with it, as we couldn't get it to work on our full-screen paper-doll characters that are shown in our Inventory, Character Creation, and Level-up UI. As we implemented capes, we found that Unity only has one physics "world", and our paper-doll characters exist in a separate scene from the rest of the game - but they share the same world as the rest of the game. When the game world is paused, the cloth sim in paper-doll would be paused as well, completely still and non-animate. We couldn't find a way around it. This was unacceptable of course, and we needed to find a solution. Our solution sounds crazy, but the only choice we had was to write our own cloth simulation for paper-doll. Thankfully, it didn't have to be as efficient or fancy as Unity cloth, as we only show a single character in paper-doll. Our solution uses a simple verlet-physics sim to get a stable physics simulation that was is fast and was easy to implement. The results are shown on a Vithrack character - hopefully you can agree that the simulation looks close-enough. In addition, we are exploring leveraging this system for flails and other dynamic simulations too!

Pillars of Eternity II

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Underworld Ascendant - Progress Report

by Silver, 03:44

Underworld Ascendant progress report for April.

Underworld Ascendant Progress Report

The last few months have been very productive and it's clear we're onto something. There's much left to do, but we're making steady progress, and tapping into player-authored gameplay in exciting new ways.

That all feels particularly salient right now, since last month marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Ultima Underworld's release - an event which, by some accounts, is regarded as the birth of the "immersive sim."

Our goal is to create a logical, deeply interactive world where the player is inspired to tap into their creativity and enjoy the magic of experimentation.

Last month, we started out testing the latest build of The Challenge of Ishtass with our System Shock 3 and VR teams. As often happens with initial rounds of testing, it was immediately clear that while we knew how you could have fun in the game, it wasn't readily apparent to the uninitiated player. Since our goal has been for the player to be able to dive right in and quickly start experimenting and have fun, that was vital for us to nail. That meant readability and player feedback for picking up objects, the nuances of melee and ranged combat, and more.

From there, we did five more rounds of testing (from casual players to the Boston Indie Games Group, from devs at The Molasses Flood to Warren Spector), each time getting a little closer. The team was super focused and made solid progress each day, so we'd iterate, test, review, and repeat.

Over time, it became apparent that spells were where people were having the most fun, but they still weren't clear exactly on how they worked so they couldn't get to the more improvisational possibilities using combinations.

We put solving that problem squarely on lead designer Tim (Thief, System Shock) Stellmach's plate. It was a tough challenge, but within a few days he had the featured spells working clearly and reliably, so players could really start tapping into their creativity.

It was a pretty intense few weeks, but, whew!, it was fun. It's great working with a team of folks who have such a wealth of experience and can sort difficult issues in short order. There are still many hurdles left for us with Underworld Ascendant, but we came out of our recent milestone with a lot of confidence that the team can tackle any problem that comes our way.

When do you get to play? Next month we'll be announcing plans for rolling out the build to backers, after we complete another round adding more interactable objects and improvisational elements to the world.

We can't wait to hear what you think and see what unique, creative solutions you come up with. In the meantime, expect new shots and video soon...

A Peek at Combat, Stealth, & Magic

We don't want to spoil the fun of discovery in The Challenge of Ishtass, but we can tell you that you'll be presented with a bevy of options for combat, stealth, and magic.

Here are a few:

  • The player can use a LONG SWORD to perform a light quick chop, a slow heavy swing that can damage multiple opponents, and parry to deflect oncoming attacks. All are useful, because while the LIZARD MEN have clear tells for their attacks, they're tough and engage in group combat.
  • Using a LONG BOW, the player can launch FLINT ARROWS to attack or distract enemies or WATER ARROWS to put out torches. The Lizard Men use STUN ARROWS to momentarily stop the player in his or her tracks, which can be particularly troubling while you're attempting to engage in swordplay or escape... the MIND CRIPPLER
  • Some of the available skills include HEAVE to pick up and throw heavy objects (which can provide cover for projectiles, interrupt attacks, and damage foes), STEALTH STEP when crouched, STEALTH SIGHT to gauge visibility based off light levels, or MAGIC SIGHT to view magic-recharging streams of mana.
  • One of the more fun featured spells is GRAVITATE, which allows the player to raise objects and assemble them into useful shapes, like a bridge to cross a chasm. (We've also seen players manage to weaponize it in a number of interesting ways...)

The Challenge of Ishtass is where we first introduce player choice in the game, where you learn there's not a "right" selection of skills, ability, and equipment, only "yours." And that you must then use your wits to apply those selections with opportunities on the battlefield, in order to stack the deck against difficult opponents.
[...]

Underworld Ascendant

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Prey - Crafting the Story of Prey

by Silver, 03:11

Arkane share Chris Avellones contribution to the story and characters of Prey.

...
"It probably took a year before we actually came up with the narrative of the 60s, along with the all of the history and layers that became the pillars of the game," Colantonio says.

"It was a long time before we were even creating dialogue," Bare adds. "We initially focused on structure with level designers, motives, objectives, backstory with the artists. And then we were just grinding on our one-page synopsis over and over to get it refined."

Enter Avellone

Along the way, Arkane looped in some outside voices as well. Harvey Smith, who was now fully focused on Dishonored 2 at Arkane's Lyon studio, helped come up with a rationale for the existence of the Typhon aliens. Austin Grossman, an award-winning writer who worked on System Shock along with Dishonored and Dishonored 2, helped refine some of the early ideas in the original synopsis, including how main character Morgan Yu would uncover his missing memories. And then the team reached out to industry legend Chris Avellone (Fallout 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance) to join the writing team - which was a dream come true for Ricardo Bare.

"Before I was even in the games industry, one of my favorite games of all time was Planescape: Torment," Bare says. "There were several other games I really liked that had kickass characters as well. I later realized they were all written by the same guy." Bare met Avellone for the first time when they were on a panel together at PAX East in 2013. "It was a cool fanboy moment for me," he smiles.

The admiration was mutual, and Avellone jumped at the chance to work with Arkane. Colantonio initially reached out to Avellone, but he was busy at the time - something Avellone wanted to rectify as soon as his schedule cleared up. "I dropped Raf a line and asked if he'd still be interested in working together," he says. "It was a quick conversation, and things went from there to visiting the studio, seeing the pitch for the game, the pillars - both for the game and the studio's approach to development, which shows in their titles - and dissecting the design docs."

Avellone also looked forward to reuniting with his former PAX co-panelist. "I already knew Prey's lead designer and lead writer Ricardo Bare from previous narrative gatherings and I'd read his work and enjoyed it. (Among his many talents, he made dwarves terrifying in his novel Jack of Hearts.) So working with the two of them and the Arkane crew seemed like a great opportunity - and it was."

[...]

Prey

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Tuesday - April 25, 2017

Phoenix Point - Interview @ Rock Paper Shotgun

by Hiddenx, 19:33

Rock Paper Shotgun has interviewed Julian Gollop at the start of his crowdfunding campaign for Phoenix Point:

The original X-COM (UFO: Enemy Unknown), Julian Gollop tells me, “succeeded in spite of itself”. I asked him how he felt about the game now, twenty three years after its initial release, and particularly about the way it’s often placed on a pedestal. He didn’t expect it to be a success and certainly didn’t think he’d be making a game heavily based on its legacy almost a quarter of a century later.

Yet here we are. The crowdfunding campaign for Phoenix Point, a sci-fi horror strategy game about an alien onslaught, has just begun. Gollop is back where many people feel he belongs, and this time round he seems extremely confident in his game’s design.

[...]

And that, I think, is the major difference between Phoenix Point and other XCOMs and XCOM-likes past and present. It’s intended to be a game in which systems interact, overlap and allow players to observe them and react to them, while encountering factions and entities that make up and are reacting to those same systems. In that way, it has much in common with my beloved but flawed X-COM: Apocalypse and I can’t help but see it as a continuation of some of the ideas in that game. It’s about time.

The most enticing loose thread I find to pull on involves a game that never saw the light of day. As we talk about the long wait for more XCOM-like games, Gollop tells me about a project he pitched at MicroProse immediately after UFO: Enemy Unknown.

“It was set in the 1930s and you controlled a team of occult investigators. Portals were being opened bringing paranormal entities in the world, and you had to fight all kinds of different supernatural creatures. And Nazis.”

The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense: Enemy Unknown? Maybe once this next alien threat has been repelled.

 

Phoenix Point

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Unknown
Genre: Tactical RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Shiness - Review @ Twinfinite

by Hiddenx, 19:21

Twinfinite has reviewed Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom:

Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom Is a Fresh But Flawed Take on the ARPG

In recent years ,the idea of a traditional RPG has evolved and matured. As the public became more self-aware in what they like and respond well to in games, RPGs began to take on more serious and darker tones with an emphasis on exploration and an open world. But in yearning for a lighter time filled with experimentation and cringe-worthy cheesy dialogue, Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom was born. Shiness takes many of the things people loved about early 2000s RPGs and mixes in some modern twists for a game that can be both intensely fun and furiously aggravating at the same time.

Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom takes place on Mahera, a planet where even tiny, chubby teddy bear engineers know a surprising amount of martial arts. Our main character is Chado, a young martial artist from race of bear-like people known as Waki. Chado and his engineer friend, Poky, crash land on Gendys Island during their search for magical lands that are said to contain the power of life. Through a series of slapstick-style mishaps, Chado and Poky get caught up in the middle of a war where they befriend foes and seek to take down sources of Dark Shi.

[...]

Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is a rare gem that captures the feeling of early PS2-era RPGs such as Dark Cloud and Grandia II while bringing it’s own brand of modern to the table. The game certainly isn’t perfect and the technical cracks most definitely show, but the things it tries to do well, it succeeds. Shiness’s combat is some of the most fun I’ve had with battle systems in a very long time and the feeling of laughing at poorly delivered jokes is something that will always work for me. Shiness is a game that would have seen big popularity if it had come out on the PS2. It’s for the crowd that desires a return to those old days only if for 40 or so hours and, unfortunately, I don’t see it landing much with anyone else.

Score: 3.5/5

Shiness

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: J-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Cosmic Star Heroine - Review @ Pixelkin

by Hiddenx, 19:15

Pixelkin has reviewed Cosmic Star Heroine:

Cosmic Star Heroine Review: A Modern Classic RPG

We’re supposed to “reach for the moon” in our goals. That way if we fall short we’ll still land among the stars. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given that the nearest star is several light-years farther away than our moon. But the point is sound.

Zeboyd Games’ moon is represented by classic, beloved 90s Japanese RPGs such as Chrono Trigger, Suikoden, and Phantasy Star. It’s a big reason I backed the game on Kickstarter several years ago. To take on some of the best RPGs in gaming with an indie budget and two-person development team is a daunting challenge. While Cosmic Star Heroine falls short in some ways, it still lands among the stars as one of the best games I’ve played this year.

[...]

The Takeaway

I encountered a few annoying bugs that caused me to get stuck in the environment, or stop responding (without freezing up) in the middle of combat. The game has since been patched and hopefully all these issues will be cleaned up. Despite a few bugs and my disappointment with the story, I loved Cosmic Star Heroine. The art style is perfect, and it provides a catchy soundtrack, unique combat system, and memorable companions. Even without the nostalgia, Cosmic Star Heroine is a solid RPG that proves that sometimes the old ways are best.

Cosmic Star Heroine

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: J-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Krai Mira - Extended Cut Review

by Hiddenx, 19:11

Gamespew has reviewed Krai Mira - Extended Cut:

Krai Mira: Extended Cut Review

The desolate wasteland of Krai Mira returns with this new edition. While it boasts more content than before, it doesn’t really change the experience enough. Krai Mira: Extended Cut offers old school RPG fans something to enjoy, but isn’t inviting for casual fans.

The core game has not been altered much with this new edition. Fans of early Fallout and Wasteland games will again feel at home, however. You have one main quest to follow and what you do outside of that is your call. There’s quests, encounters, loot, and exploration. The Krai Mira: Extended Cut now allows players to continue their adventure after completing the main quest. While the game showcases a fair amount of change, it doesn’t shift the game enough to benefit casual RPG fans. It continues to be a gift for die hard genre fans, but the numerous issues present in the base game, although somewhat accounted for, still linger.

[...]

Krai Mira: Extended Cut, unfortunately, feels more like a big patch than a fresh take on the game. Which, it kind of is because if you have the base game, this version is just a simple download. As the title states, this is more extension than improvement. The core of the game has not changed enough to make it feel completely welcoming, though that is not to say the improvements aren’t noticeable. Lazy writing, persistent UI difficulties/problems, AI bugs and some combat balancing are enough to scare away most players, but underneath the surface, classic RPG fans still have the same enjoyable experience with a little extra game to explore. It’s definitely worth the free upgrade for owners of the base game, but Krai Mira: Extended Cut isn’t an RPG you need to play. It’s good fun, but not enough to keep you interested if you don’t live for these type of games.

Score: 7/10

Krai Mira

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Post-Apoc
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

RPGWatch Feature - Hellpoint Interview

by Myrthos, 17:04

Farflame got in touch with Cradle Games to talk about their Dark Souls inspired RPG, Hellpoint, to discuss working in AAA development, working in indie development, their reasons for starting their own studio and the game.
Hellpoint is trying to get funded on Kickstarter, aiming for 50K Canadian dollars and is halfway that amount at the moment.

RPGWatch: What do you like or don't you like about contemporary RPGs? What are your favorite RPGs (aside from Dark Souls)?

Marc-André Jutras: In the Souls-like genre, mine is definitely Bloodborne. In the wide RPG genre, it is hard not to like Fallout 3 New Vegas or Skyrim. On the older RPGs, I believe the one I spent the most time on is Chrono Trigger.

I have a ritual when I play a new From Software game; I solo every boss alone, without summoning any help. A kind of me versus the game challenge. Makes the game longer, but then I can claim to have really beat it on my own.

Mat Boudreau: I don't like that most RPGs as they make more money tend to catch what I call the "Budweiser" syndrome, in that they start to taste more generic to become more mainstream. So, I get bored easily, I need a stronger brew.

My RPG will always be Earthbound. I was a kid and I created a table top game with Earthbound to play with friends. I must have scratched and sniffed the back of the strategy guide until it went blank (Shroom!! was just disgusting but I kept scratching, hehe), and the game actually taught me English! I think I'll start a new game again soon, I do that every 5 years or so. Okdesuka!

Hellpoint

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Evils Doom - Unofficial PC Update

by Silver, 06:38

@IndieRetroNews reports on Evils Doom which was an unreleased Amiga dungeon crawler which has now been updated to work on Windows.

...
As we said before according to some sites it was due to bugs that Evil's Doom became a victim of software piracy, after the beta version was sent to magazines, the first cracks appeared and the developers cancelled the game and left the Amiga. It wasn't until much later a French Amiga programmer by the name of -meynaf- not only fixed most of the bugs but gave it the translation work over as well. Although it was still very fiddly to get to work on most Amiga systems and even the previous PC launchables ( containing emulation/rom ) in 2014, wasn't the best either.

So now we look towards The Company.PL for our dungeon crawling fix, as this dungeon crawler known as ' Evil's Doom ' with its Hi-Res GFX (640X512) with 256 colors, hand drawn artwork, character designs and conversations, and inclusive brilliant intro with a fabulous tune. Has been packaged together in a PC launchable file that includes an improved TC Engine v2.6, improved game speed, as well as with the very latest available patched up Amiga game files that also works on Windows 10.

General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

Underrail - Jet Skis

by Silver, 02:17

Underrail is set to get jet skis with the expansion content according to the latest development update.

Since the expansion takes place on Black Sea, naturally you will need a way to travel between all the small islands, bays and between far shores. You will be able to do this on a dozen of different jet skis, ranging from super light racing jet skis to mini-destroyers, which you can further customize under the hood by installing better engines, batteries and suspension systems. The models themselves differ way by the combat cover, durability, stability, speed, damage resistances, as well number of and maximum size of a parts you can install into them; some vehicles can have multiple engines and/or batteries. Also, some jet skis will have special attacks or abilities.

Once you get to the Black Sea it won't take long for you to get a hold of the most basic "junk jet", but to get the quality stuff, both in terms of the jet ski model and the parts, you'll have to spend a fair amount of charons at a specialized shop in Core City. You'll also have to decide what are the most important characteristics of jet ski for you, as no one model will be best at everything.

While riding a jet ski you'll be able to use most of your weapons, abilites and utilities. The most notable exceptions are sledgehammers and sniper rifles, which are not available while driving. Also, short range melee weapons (fist weapons and knives) and unarmed attacks, though still performable, will suffer significant penalties. When an attack is aimed at you, it has a chance of hitting the jet ski instead (or in case of AoE attacks, a percentage of the damage hits the vehicle), depending on the cover it provides, in which case the damage is tested against its resistences and the amount that penetrates those is deducted from the vehicle's durability. If the durability reaches zero, the vehicle is destroyed and you die (you never learned to swim).

That's it for now, guys. Let us know how all this sounds and I hope you're looking forward to some naval battles with pirates and worse things.

Underrail

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Monday - April 24, 2017

Star Control: Origins - Brad Wardell Interview

by Hiddenx, 20:16

GamingBolt has interviewed Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, about Star Control and more:

Riding The Cutting Edge Of The Technology Wave – An Interview With Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock

Surfing the crest of the tech wave.

Stardock is a company that pushes boundaries of technology in video games. The company, known for its compelling and highly addictive PC science fiction games, has pushed the benchmarks of graphical technologies before numerous times, and is looking to do so again going forward. This is the rare company, in other words, that can deliver on style and substance, both.

So naturally, when you get the chance to talk tok someone from a company like that, you want to ask them everything that you can. And that’s what we did, when we got the chance to engage Brad Wardell of Stardock in an exclusive interview some time ago.

Okay, so to begin with, would you like to introduce yourself for our readers?

Sure, I’m Brad Wardell, I’m the President and CEO of Stardock, we’re located out here in Michigan. And we’ve been in business since the early 1990s,we’re one of the early game development studios still around. We’ve made Galactic Civilizations, Sins of a Solar Empire, Ashes of the Singularity, Offroad Trading Company, and lots of other great stuff.

[...]

Okay, so Star Control: Origins- now this one I actually don’t know much about, I know that you’ve announced it for PC and consoles, but we haven’t heard much more about the game. What can you tell us about it, and when can we expect to start hearing more about it? 

Sure, so Star Control was a really popular series back in the early 1990s. And it was one of the few action adventure games- some describe Mass Effect as a remake of Star Control, so to say, where they try to blend RPG and adventure and action all together in a single game. Some years ago, when Atari filed for bankruptcy, we were able to pick up the rights to the Star Controlfranchise, and we decided to make a new one. So a lot of the time since has been spent building up our studio in Maryland, hiring up people who can do right by this reboot. In terms of when people will start hearing more about this? I’d say probably Summer or Early Fall is when we’ll start ramping up. What we don’t want to do is show too much and then people are disappointed- so we want to see we show it in a state so people can really see where we are going.

[...]
Thank you for the info, Farflame!

Star Control: Origins

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Sunless Skies - Roadmap

by Hiddenx, 20:03

Here's the new Sunless Skies roadmap - thumbs up for using Agile Software Development:

Sunless Skies roadmap

Below you’ll find the roadmap for the production of Sunless Skies. Like many developers, we work in 2-week periods called ‘sprints’. This roadmap will allow you to see which general features we’re working on from now until Early Access (we’ll update it with more sprints once we enter Early Access!).

There are a few important things to note:

  • Whilst the tasks and features have been outlined and planned ahead of time by our producer, Lottie, game development is quite a fluid process.
  • Some tasks turn out to be more complicated than anticipated.
  • It is also very rare, for example, that we would complete a huge component of the game, like all combat, art or writing, within just two weeks. Large features will be developed across multiple sprints.
  • Time for polish at the end is also key. Since game development is iterative, production schedules are basically set as a skeleton of what needs to be achieved. Once we start getting player feedback, we can confirm what is working and what isn’t, make adjustments, and then flesh everything out with final art, prose, audio and animation.

Once a sprint is completed, we’ll update the information below to reflect more specifically what was accomplished, and link it to the individual development blog, in case you’re curious to know more!

KICKSTARTER – EARLY ACCESS ROAD MAP

last updated 19 April 2017

Sprint 9 – Traveling Through the Reach: APHELION Part I
ART: initial UI pipeline set up, initial locomotive designs
CONTENT: initial region work on The Reach
GAMEPLAY & DESIGN: beginning mechanics on hunger/death/fuel/time, procedurally generated movement through the game world

Sprint 10 – Traveling Through the Reach: Part II – APHELION Part 2
ART: terrain pipeline
CONTENT: Port: Traitor’s Wood
GAMEPLAY & DESIGN: implementing fuel/hunger, initial work on Terror, beginning character progression

Sprint 11 – Traveling Through the Reach: Part III – BIG BANG
ART: beginning art and animation greyboxing
CONTENT: vessel classifications
GAMEPLAY & DESIGN: combat AI specifications for tactics, error report capturing, hold management

Sprint 12 – Combat in the Reach: CHROMOSPHERE
(Extremely hot red part of planetary atmosphere. Our first heavy combat sprint!)
Terrain, AI combat behavior, player movement prototyping, commissioning first sound effects

Sprint 13 – Combat in the Reach: DARK MATTER  
(The mass that explains all the astrophysics we can’t explain. First part of combat complete and first bits of audio.)
Player combat mechanics, initial work on difficulty settings, adding environmental features in-game

Sprint 14 – Populating the Reach: EXOGENESIS 
(Theory that life originated elsewhere in the universe and was then transported to Earth. People of the Reach!)
Welcoming a new artist and designing denizens of the Reach (crew, vessels, beasties)

Sprint 15 – Populating the Reach: FORTUNE
(Dante’s personified cosmic intelligence responsible for Earth. People/denizens/character sprint.)
People of the Reach continued, character creation and character progression, closed-beta preparation

Sprint 16 – Enriching the Reach: GANYMEDE
(Jupiter’s largest moon, and the ninth largest object in our solar system. A smorgasbord of tasks all aimed at enriching the environment of the Reach.)
Closed-beta begins, audio, legacies, scouts and taking player feedback from the beta

Sprint 17 – Enriching the Reach: HYPERGALAXY
(A usually spiral galaxy surrounded by smaller satellite galaxies, like the Milky Way and Andromeda. Smorgasbord fleshing out the outlines of the Reach.)
Early Access tutorial work, shop functionality and bug fixing

Sprint 18 – Out of the Reach: INVARIANTTHEORIE
(Einstein’s preferred term for special relativity. Fine tuning the Reach!)
Bug fixing, preparation for Early Access and our first look at a new region (Albion)

Sprint 19 – Out of the Reach: JANSKY
(A unit of spectral irradiance; a big bright burst of light. Heading towards Early Access fast!)
Creating a responsive world, galaxy-wide game mechanics, and prioritising tasks to be finalised ahead of Early Access

Sprint 20 – Out of the Reach: KEPLER
(Planetary motion and celestial physics. Now it’s time for Early Access to begin!)
Smuggling implementation and finalising the Reach for Early Access

Thanks Farflame!

Sunless Skies

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Steampunk
Genre: Roguelike
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Prey - Recycle Everything

by Hiddenx, 19:56

'You should recycle everything' - this is an environmentally friendly message from the new Prey trailer:

Prey - Recycle Everything

loading...

Earth Day might be all about our planet… but that won’t stop us from celebrating while aboard Talos I. In honor of the global holiday, we took a moment to tidy up our orbiting space station, recycling anything and everything we could find, then using the handy Recycler Charge to clean up some more. From trash to treasures to Typhon aliens, we’re going green in the most awesome way imaginable.

Thanks Farflame!

Prey

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

ELEX - New Screenshots

by Hiddenx, 19:50

Farflame spotted some new ELEX screenshots at WoE:

Together with the new prologue trailer some new screenshots of ELEX have been released as well. While some show comepletely new scenes, others seem to belong to known screenshots. On the screenshots you can see landscapes and combat against monsters and mechs, among other things.

ELEX

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Post-Apoc
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release: In development

Details

Elder Scrolls Online - Morrowind Preview

by Hiddenx, 19:46

Trusted Reviews checked out the upcoming ESO expansion Morrowind:

Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind preview

[...]

Vvardenfell is a land teeming with life. Wander past the Seyda Neen's bustling streets to find lush, verdant forests, with a scattering of lightly-animated flora writhing from side-to-side. With the appropriately-named vvardvarks scuttling past, Morrowind feels very much alive.

Set 700 years before the events of the original Morrowind, the gargantuan Ink-Cap mushrooms sprouting into the sky will be immediately familiar to returning players. Naturally, many cues are taken from the physical landscape of the original RPG, so the lava-coated wastes of the Red Mountain make a return alongside boggy marsh lands and grassy highlands.

Following the main quest, however, will lead you to the gleaming grandeur of Vivec City, where the life force of legendary warrior-poet Vivec is dwindling. In exploring his mysterious illness and uncovering the true nature of the ancient daedric threat hanging over the island, you’ll happen upon plenty of lore and political intrigue in the land of the Dunmer (otherwise known as Dark Elves).

Morrowind is an intensely divided society and it’s the tension between its rival houses and tribes that drive the more interesting quests you’ll take on. What unites the Telvanni, Dres, and Redoran houses, the Ashlander barbarians and the Morag Tong, is their hatred of “outlanders”. Where Morrowind first timers will be engrossed as they unravel these divisions, ZeniMax has prepared many nostalgic treats for veterans.

[...]

First impressions

What's striking about Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is how polished the game was for me. I did have occasional connection issues whilst queuing for PvP matches and some textures were very slow to load at times, but overall the expansion looks very promising ahead of its June 6th launch. Ever since 2014, ESO has clearly been one long learning curve for ZeniMax and Bethesda, with the excellent Morrowind the result. With an intriguing narrative holding together a refreshing new class and PvP modes, Morrowind represents an MMO going from strength to strength.

Elder Scrolls Online

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: MMORPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Copper Dreams - Dialogue vs. Player Agency

by Silver, 12:47

Copper Dreams' latest update focuses on dialogue vs. player agency and the roleplaying goals behind the system.

Dialogue vs. Player Agency

Copper Dreams uses tag-based dialogue, which we talk about a little bit in the initial Kickstarter overview of the ruleset. In this update we just wanted to go over how that will influence gameplay and roleplaying, and our reasoning for why we decided to use it in our original design doc.

Roleplaying Goals

Our goal was to make dialogue another tool in the player's belt. Dialogue doesn't take away player agency, and is instead something that's either strictly for the player to get information from NPCs or playful banter - usually somewhere in-between. For Copper Dreams we came up with a few guidelines for dialogue:

  • Never author events in dialogue that the player could use gameplay to actually play through. Limiting the large amount of tools we've given the player for gameplay to push some story/dialogue/cinematic would be insulting to the player and systems, and ultimately make a bad DM experience. Players need to be able to respond to dialogue or cinematic situations with ALL their tools and gameplay mechanics normally available.
  • The player isn't important or destined for greatness, conversations need to reflect that. It's a dungeon crawl where you play as cyborg monsters, you're not sitting down for tea, so NPCs shouldn't be to open to a stranger like yourself.
  • Allow player agency by making dialogue events predictable by making the tools at your disposal during conversation very consistent in their application. If you try to bribe one person, you can try to bribe them all, whenever you want during a dialogue.

More P&P Feels

Tags were initially a difficult choice for us, as it's very easy to fall into the trap of dragging the player by the ear to show or tell them something just the way you want to through some dialogue event. Any DM knows the experience of setting up a great event or character encounter for a story to have a player evade or change it through clever or unexpected means. That's awesome though, allowing player agency for creative problem solving is the crux for most [good] tabletop roleplaying we know. If we're under the assumption that games should be a challenge, which we are, selecting through a handful of dialogue options for choice/consequence isn't a challenge, it's just a storybook with a no-lose scenario.

After assessing what we then wanted, we couldn't use the typical CYOA events usually done in roleplaying games. CYOA style text options in a gameplay focused RPG is the equivalent of quicktime events to an action game. There's often a contradiction in design for RPGs where they give players an immense amount of tools and ways of completing tasks, but then in a conversation or cinematic players are often shoehorned into a situation where they can only access a fraction of those tools in story contextual ways. No amount of choice and consequence can make up for the fact that the DM took away the rules and tools you were relying on up to that point to be cinematic or story heavy for their own agenda, taking away from your experience.

We had to think about how we use it and make it fun in actual p&p gaming. Rolling for risky (permanent) social disposition changes for NPCs is a big part of that, as well as the focus of using them as a tool for gameplay and not story-dumps. The conversation flow of an NPC saying something and the player asking about keyword highlights is a comfortable flow and encourages the idea that you're purposefully asking these questions, that these NPCs are a tool at your disposal instead of there to tell you about your story.

[...]

Copper Dreams

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Modern
Genre: Tactical RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Sunday - April 23, 2017

General News - Tim Cain: Building a better RPG

by Hiddenx, 21:38

Tim Cain explains how to build better RPGs at the RebootDevelop in Croatia:

Reboot Develop 2017 Conference - 20th to 22nd April

Building a Better RPG: Seven Mistakes to Avoid

-> Twitch TV

Thank you for the info, luj1!

General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

Flatspace IIk - Released

by Hiddenx, 09:30

The top-down space trading game Flatscape IIk has been released:

Flatspace IIk is a top-down space trading game with the emphasis on free exploration. In Flatspace, you choose your profession and are given a small spaceship with a scattering of random weapons, then you are free to earn a living, explore, hunt, trade, grow; upgrading your ship and equipment, eventually buying ships with crew members, and discovering the game's many secrets. Each game is different, with an intelligent random universe, populated by thousands of intelligent ships.

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Influences include classic space-trading games like Elite, and RPG Dungeon Crawlers like Nethack.

Flatspace IIk

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Adventure-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Onyx - Released

by Hiddenx, 09:05

Aldorlea Games just released a new RPG: Onyx

Plot

Play as Rowan, a secluded witch with a bad temper, who has to run after the people who stole her treasured ring given to her by her dead mother. But... could it be that the ring hides more than just emotional value?

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Features

  • Extensive, Epic Adventure Worth 30-40 Hours of Gameplay
  • Optional Mouse Control with Associated Menu Bar
  • Stunning Artworks from the Team Behind Moonchild and Opaline
  • Namable Characters - Fight With Your Friends if You Feel Like it
  • Side-view Battles with Incredible, Menacing Monsters
  • 3 Modes of Difficulty
  • 100% Visible Encounters
  • 51 Secret Rooms to Discover
  • Hilarious Touches of Humor

Onyx

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Shiness - Review @ Gamezone

by Hiddenx, 08:49

Gamezone has reviewed the action RPG Shiness:

Shiness Reminds the RPG Genre How to be Original

A colorful world injects new life into a familiar genre.

Introduction

Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is an action-RPG that was funded partially on Kickstarter. Developed by Enigami, it was released on April 18, 2017. Initially, when it was announced, Shiness comes across as a bright and vivid RPG with interesting and original races and characters. With a nice roster of characters to play as the game looks like it calls back to the old days of classic RPGs with varied personalities.

As it turns out, aesthetically speaking, it did just that. But the gameplay was something refreshingly new. Fights take place in an arena, which is basically just where you were on the map with a bubble around the boundaries. The controls aren’t monstrously difficult, and fights can go pretty fast if weaknesses are taken advantage of.

Combat includes combos, dodging, parries, and spellcasting. Teammates can even be swapped out on the fly. Each character can be equipped with different equipment and fighting styles as well as spells, allowing players to custom build different characters with different strengths and weaknesses. Each character can only have four types of magic equipped at a time, but being able to switch out characters so easily allows for great strategies.

[...]

Overall, Shiness was an enjoyable game.

At a price point of $30, it’s absolutely worth the price despite its shortcomings. With how dense the world seems to be, many sequels could be spawned from this title, and perhaps even alleviating the previous complaint of unanswered questions.

Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is a breath of fresh air, while also reminding us what made the PlayStation 2 era so great with its originality and narrative decisions. Many RPGs today resemble movies, leaving no room for the player to just feel the world out. Shiness encourages it with its dense and color packed environments and keeps you coming back with its fun combat.

Score: 8/10

Shiness

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: J-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Expeditions: Conquistador - Free to play

by Hiddenx, 08:40

You can check out Expeditions: Conquistador this weekend. The next part in the series - Expeditions: Viking - will be released next week:

Expeditions: Conquistador

Conquer the New world: In the 16th Century, Spanish explorers and soldiers reached the shores of America. The search for gold, fame, and adventure drove these travelers into a treacherous wilderness where they faced hunger, disease, and dangerous predators. In their wake, the Aztec Empires lay in ruins.

Re-write the history of the Conquistadors: Forge diplomatic alliances with the natives... or crush the savages and bring civilization to the pagan tribes! Create an expedition of individual characters: Choose your followers wisely from over 30 characters, but be careful - they each have their own traits, opinions and moral standards.

Hunt for unimaginable riches and fight intense battles in the unforgiving jungle. In this turn based strategy RPG, a cunning plan is as vital as thoughtful resource management. Expeditions: Conquistador offers a rich storyline separated into two campaigns, challenging players throughout 25+ hours of gameplay. Strategy veterans as well as newbies will find their turn-based El Dorado!

Features

  • Discover the New World! Travel to legendary locations in America, roam the jungle on the hunt for mystical temples as well as ancient ruins.
  • Create your own party of followers! Choose from more than 30 characters, train your recruits and lead them to battle. Coach them as they will develop from untrained recruits to fierce battlefield veterans.
  • Four highly customisable difficulty levels will challenge pros and newbies alike. But be warned: The Iron Man mode is a real beast!
  • Choice & Consequence: Use your skills to avoid hostility or, when diplomacy breaks down, adapt your tactics to highly varied terrains across more than 70 battlefields.
  • Challenge your friends to tactical PvP combat in either Hot Seat mode or via TCP/ICP.

 

Expeditions: Conquistador

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Historical
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Saturday - April 22, 2017

Bevontule - On Steam Greenlight

by Hiddenx, 19:28

You can vote for open-world tactical RPG Bevontule on Steam Greenlight now:

Bevontule

Bevontule is a modern take on the role-playing genre, inspired heavily by Japanese, open-world and tactical RPGs. While we draw from and are happy to list our many 'golden age'-era influences, Bevontule maintains a strong identity, presenting an array of unique gameplay elements that expand upon and innovate beyond many of the systems we ourselves loved as children.

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KEY FEATURES:

  • Mature and highly-detailed plot spanning thousands of years, inspired by games like Xenogears and Shadow Hearts.
  • Unique and challenging tactical, turn-based combat system where proper positioning and timing are critical.
  • Beautiful 3D environments to discover, explore and conquer, including a massive, JRPG-style overworld.
  • Free-roaming enemies with a wide variety of movement patterns, behaviors and habitats; avoid or engage at your own discretion!
  • Unrelenting and highly-intelligent enemy AI that can be scaled to various difficulty levels.
  • A large cast of interesting characters with defined roles, yet deeply customizable skillsets, with multiple builds for each combatant.
  • Enemies learn and level up as you do, accessing new skills, tactics and other ‘enhancements.’
  • Unlock, learn and equip from hundreds of combat skills, attribute bonuses, and world-based buffs.
  • Scavenge, create and upgrade items with our original skill-based crafting system.
  • Integrated bestiary system that rewards discovery, experimentation and exploitation of enemies for rewards.
  • Loads of side-quests, optional bosses/areas, and minigames!

Bevontule

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Elder Scrolls Online - Morrowind: Warden Gameplay Trailer

by Hiddenx, 16:18

A new class is coming to The Elder Scrolls Online - the Warden:

The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind –
Warden Gameplay Trailer

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In The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, Tamriel has a powerful new protector. On June 6, you can take control of the first new class to join ESO since launch: the Warden. These guardians of the wilds protect Nirn with a host of unique, nature-based abilities. Watch the Warden Gameplay Trailer for a look at the kind of hero you can become, and learn more here.

Elder Scrolls Online

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: MMORPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Grimoire Chronicles - Released

by Hiddenx, 10:31

Warfare has released their RPG Grimoire Chronicles:

Grimoire Chronicles

Join Myra, a young witch, on a fantastic journey to save her best friend. It's not going to be easy - her world is at war, predators made up of an elite group of warriors that fight against magic users are fighting against all of the magical kind.

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The game features 10 playable characters, with a compelling storyline for you to play. With twist and turns, betrayal, friendships and maybe even love this is a magical adventure for you to enjoy.

In addition to the main story there are over 20 Side-Quests to complete and over 15 Secret Areas to discover. You also get to hunt for relics which give you special field abilities. With an original soundtrack, great locations and more we hope you will enjoy the game.

Grimoire Chronicles

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

General News - Sunless Chronicles

by Hiddenx, 10:10

Farflame spotted this interesting one man project - Sunless Chronicles:

Sunless Chronicles - Action RPG Project made in UE4

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This is an early prototype of a one-man project heavily inspired in the Dark Souls series. It is being developed entirely in UE4. This is a demo level using UE4 Infinity Blade maps (Frozen Cove) to show off the combat mechanics, which are still in progress.

The game will be released for Windows, hopefully in 2017. There will also be iOs and Android versions available for free.

General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

General News - 25 best tactical RPGs

by Hiddenx, 10:01

GamePressure made a list of the 25 best tactical RPGs:

Roleplaying in turns – 25 best tactical RPGs

As hack’n’slash constitutes one extremity of the RPG genre, its other side are the tactical RPGs, emphasizing complex, strategic battles played in turns. Here's a ranking of the 25 best tactical RPGs, according to our staff.

Tactical RPG, also known as SRPG, is a genre that’s been present on the market for over 30 years. They’re most commonly associated with Japan and gaming consoles. It’s a natural consequence, as the genre was popularized by the Fire Emblem series, which didn’t come to Europe until 2004. That’s why SRPG, while highly popular in Japan, remains on the sidelines of western gaming. In recent years, however, it seems like the situation is slowly changing.

Thanks to indie titles such as The Banner Saga or Invisible, Inc. and the latest installments of the Fire Emblem series on Nintendo 3DS, more and more people are picking up interest in tactical RPGs. That’s why we’ve decided to prepare for you a list of the best representatives of the genre, according to our staff.

[...]

25. Chroma Squad
24. Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel
23. Project X Zone
22. Resonance of Fate
21. Odium (Gorky 17)
20. Gladius
19. Jeanne d’Arc
18. SteamWorld Heist
17. Vanguard Bandits
16. Incubation: Time is Running Out
15. Ring of Red
14. Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity
13. Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume
12. Vandal Hearts II
11. Grand Kingdom
10. Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut
09. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked
08. The Banner Saga
07. Shining Force III
06. Valkyria Chronicles
05. Front Mission 3
04. Fire Emblem: Awakening
03. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
02. Final Fantasy Tactics
01. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

Thanks Farflame!

PS: Jagged Alliance 2 is an RPG!

General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition - Interview

by Hiddenx, 09:49

Farflame spotted this Wccftech-Interview about Victor Vran: Overkill Edition with Haemimont CEO Gabriel Dobrev and Producer Bisser Dyankov:

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition – Chatting with Haemimont on Consoles, Motörhead & More

Haemimont Games, the largest Bulgarian development studio, is mostly known for the last three Tropico games. However, their most recent title is Action RPG Victor Vran, originally launched on Steam in July 2015 to overwhelmingly positive user feedback (90% of the total user reviews are positive).

The game is now about to get an ‘Overkill Edition’ which will launch on consoles (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) as well as PC. This version of Victor Vran comes with two brand new adventures: Fractured Worlds and Motörhead: Through the Ages, the latter clearly inspired by the famous English rock band.

We were able to send a few questions to Haemimont CEO Gabriel Dobrev and Producer Bisser Dyankov to learn more about Victor Vran: Overkill Edition ahead of the upcoming release.

Victor Vran launched almost two years ago on PC. Are you satisfied with the game’s performance and user feedback? Why is it the right time now to launch on consoles?

When we first launched on Early Access we didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, but we knew something was going to happen and that paid out really well for Victor Vran.
The players had a lot of involvement in what the game became later on. Initially, we weren’t really planning to add as much content as we did, but the direct comparison that everybody was doing with Diablo just more or less gave us the input to do something that can stand up next to Diablo in terms of playtime and amount of content.

We’re combining the launch on consoles with the launch of the new content on PC and because we couldn’t launch it on consoles originally we believe that now is a really good time to do it. Console players will have access to content at the same time of PC players.

[...]

 

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Hellpoint - Preview

by Hiddenx, 09:40

Fextra Life checked out the Sci Fi Action RPG Hellpoint which is on Kickstarter right now:

Hellpoint Preview: Sci-fi Souls With a Horror Twist

Hellpoint by Cradle Studios, is an interesting blend of Dark Souls, Bloodborne and the space horror atmosphere of Dead Space. While clearly taking the backbone of its gameplay from Souls, the environments, setting and mood are all clearly inspired by dark sci-fi experiences like Dead Space, Alien or something in that similar vein.
As you fight your way through the demo level, a space station orbiting a black hole, the gameplay has a familiar feel, but the atmospheric mood is less than comforting. Let’s take a deeper look at a promising Indie game that just hit Kickstarter a few days ago.

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[...]

Thanks Farflame!

Hellpoint

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Syberia 3 - Released

by Hiddenx, 09:31

Syberia 3 - the final part of the adventure series - has been released:

Trailer:

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The devs are already working on a patch:

Update from the developers

Hello Syberia community. First of all thank you for your support and feedbacks ; both negative and positive. We are really happy to see that Syberia community is so strong. We really hope that new and ancient players will enjoy this new sequel and we would like to strengthen and improve our communication with the community. There is a lot of message and we are reading all of them and take all into account in order to provide you with updates.

We are currently working hard to deliver a patch as soon as possible that will help you to improve your game experience. Here is the list of the known issues we are working on.

  • Controls: we are improving control on keyboard/mouse and compatibility with most gamepad controllers.
  • Russian and Chinese Fonts are too small
  • Voice over and sound issues:
  • Save game issue: some of you have issue loading previous save. Currently the only known tip is to start a new game and load the previous save.
  • Material compatibility.
  • Mac optimization

Thank you for your patience.

Thanks Farflame!

Non-RPG General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: Unknown
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details